Sunday, 15 January 2017

Colleges of Colour Magic: Celestial Wizard

It's been a long time since I posted anything here, and longer still since paint met brush at my work station. My absence from anything Oldhammer, beyond a few minor admin duties online, has been far too long and has been caused by illness. At least I now know what is up, having previously been told I was suffering from a hernia, and I am waiting my date to go under the knife. I have found sitting, even for a short time, quite uncomfortable and concentrating on painting intricate Citadel miniatures to an acceptable result, impossible! 

In the interim I have taken up cooking. I have learnt how to make a roux, butterfly chicken and use a plethora of new spices. My wife and I have never eaten better! Miniature modelling and cooking have much in common - selecting colours, fine knifework and success through careful preparation and planning just three. Still, its hard seeing others base out quality figures while you stand idle. 

However, having implemented several lifestyle changes since my diagnosis, the discomfort of sitting down has decreased and I decided to have a go at knocking out a miniature this morning. I set myself a limit of two hours painting time, with plenty of getting up and pacing about and the Arabian wizard you see before you is the result! 

I am very pleased with him, having thought that my skills would have gone soft. He is of course one of the Citadel/Foundry 'Time Warped Wizards' that were released last summer at Oldhammer IV, and which have since become part of the Warmonger range. He has all the trappings of a celestial wizard; telescope, pince-nez and astronomical symbols on his attire. 

According to the Collages of magic article I am using as inspiration for this project, celestial wizards are rather ostentatious in dress, flamboyant in speech and delicate in general disposition. In most cases, this manifests itself in grace and fine manners. The popular view of the college across the Old World is slightly different with celestials being portrayed as overdressed fools who spend a fortune on fine foods, majestic wines and finely wrought artwork - they sound uncomfortably like the author of this blog!!

Whatever their personality type, celestial wizards are rarely seen during the day as they are said to dislike bright lights. Being obsessed with the heavens means that celestial wizards are in high demand for horoscopes and are said to be able to determine astral events with absolute accuracy.

So plenty of background material for games! 


Friday, 30 December 2016

Is it normal to love Warhammer Townscape so much?

If you could pick one defining product from GW's history, what would it be? I suppose that would depend on what you would consider 'defining' to actually mean, for me at least, the word refers to that singular release which, for what ever reason, outshines all of the others. Many of you may well point me towards the Realm of Chaos books, particularly the first volume Slaves to Darkness, as a seminal release. And you may well be right, but for old Orlygg nothing outshines Warhammer Townscape. 

I cannot really communicate how much joy this release has brought me over the years, though sitting here now I am struggling to determine exactly why I love the book (which it essentially is I suppose) as deeply as I do. Sure nostalgia plays a big, big part and I guess it is here that I must begin, as understanding why someone adores a particular football team, song or meal is laced with memory so I guess I better start sharing mine. 

Like many of us, my first exposure to Townscape came via White Dwarf magazine. I lived too far away from Wonderworld (my local friendly gaming store in the 1980s) to browse items off the shelf or actually talk to another with a deeper knowledge of GW products than my own. Of course, in the pre-internet days mass communication of this nature was only possible through print media, and the monthly journey to the newsagent for my copy of White Dwarf was an adventure in itself. 

The advert above was my first exposure to the book. And it captured my imagination in a way that still inspires me 27 year later. The look of those buildings, all different, impressively stacked row on row filled my mind with wonderous possibility. I could have my 'own' fantasy town? A town complete with temples, houses, halls and inns - all of which I could build myself with the help of my trusty prit-stick and PVA bottle? 

Of course, it wasn't available yet, was it? Not that that mattered one iota as I didn't have a great deal of cash back then. Still, with Christmas around the corner I knew exactly what I wanted Father Christmas to bring me in my stocking so promptly informed Mum or Dad what I was after. While I waited for the year to turn, I scoured White Dwarf for further adverts or images that would relay to me what I was getting. I knew a fair bit about constructing card buildings as I had a long fascination with those cardboard castle kits you could pick up for a few quid at a National Trust site. And my own father had built cardstock buildings for his model railways too. Though a far smaller scale and rather bland and uninteresting, I had built signal boxes and station platforms before and new the basics about cutting, scouring and gluing (well, at least I thought I did).

Christmas game and I recognised the shape and size of a GW book under the tree almost straightaway. It was the first item that I opened and I can recall my mother being somewhat puzzled why I had shown little interest in unwrapping anything else. Of course, my parents were extremely reluctant to allow me to get my scissors, knives and glues out during Christmas morning and I had a frustrating wait until the afternoon before I could get started. 

Being young, I chose the largest possible building to start with - the notoriously hard to build Watermill. Having cut out a few of the pieces I quickly gave up on the model due to its sheer complexity. Instead, I built the gatehouse model with the tunnel passing through it. I didn't realise at the time that many of the buildings in the set came from prior releases and this was why I recalled seeing a  photograph of some skaven in front of it. It wasn't long until I have built about eight or nine of the buildings (mostly houses) and had a larger collection of them than painted figures! Those initial builds saw some serious gaming action and I can remember fighting battle after battle on my bedroom floor with the buildings dotted around. 

What happened to those first builds? God only knows but they were pretty grottily built if truth be told. My scoring was often rushed and my gluing skills were not what I thought they were. Slapdash may be the right word when describing those early efforts but the buildings I had in my possession I loved so, so much and used to proudly take them around my friend's houses for adventures. 

Later on in the '90s I built the remaining buildings. It was during one long summer that I rediscovered the book in my cupboard and that sense of wonderous joy filled me again. That fantastic feeling of limitless possibility. Of course, my natural compulsion to 'make and do' was also a huge draw and I spent many happy afternoon sat out in the sun assembling the remaining buildings. My skills have moved on considerably in the previous years so these models were much better constructed - though I still hadn't learnt the importance of basing the buildings to make them stronger. 

Those models travelled around with me for a few years until I stored them in my dad's attic. The place wasn't particularly dry and the old card models went damp and mouldy. Dad chucked them out for being a health hazard. I wasn't that fussed at the time. 

Throughout the rest of the '90s the interest was always there at a low level. If I saw anything remotely GW like I would snap it up from car boot sales or charity shops but booze and girls now occupied my waking hours and old metal men and their support products were of little interest. After I was married and found myself in possession of more cash and my own home, eBay called to me repeatedly in search of Townscape. I wanted to feel that excitement again - even if the book itself just sat on my shelf. But tracking down a complete copy of Townscape was much, much harder than I expected, even in the pre-Oldhammer days when very few people actually wanted old GW stuff. 

From time to time, half complete sets would come up for sale and after about 18 months of searching I managed to piece together the book once again - this being my 'never to cut up' edition. I am happy to say that it safe with me here as I type. I love flicking through the book and spotting all of the little GW in-jokes on the signage and posters, stuff that went way over my head back in the day. I am also lucky enough to have a three-quarters complete version as well, and it its from this copy that my card stock buildings that you see in the background of my miniature shots come from. 

Despite my love of these card buildings, I had only actually built three of them to date; the yellow faced house you can see in the photograph above, the watchtower and the rough inn from McDeath. This all changed yesterday when I had the entire morning and afternoon to myself. Wife and kids had taken a trip into London and this left me with plenty of time to spare. I have been suffering a great deal over the last year or so with what I thought was a hernia, and the associated pain and discomfort made it difficult to sit and work for any great length of time. The complete rest I had over the Christmas break meant that I was feeling pretty good and was looking forwards to spending a rare bit of hobby time at my bureau. Of course, the lure of Townscape over such an event was impossible to resist and as I am resurrecting my McDeath project, I decide to build the remaining models required. 

The stone toll house and the infamous windmill. 

I ended up building a little more than that. Both the buildings I needed were spread over two pages so I decided to build everything else printed on to the card as well so I ended up with a couple of tents, a doghouse and the outside lavatory. 

And here they all are based on thin card taken from the back of a pad of paper. They are not quite finished yet either, the white score lines are quite obvious once the buildings are assembled and I find them quite unseemly. Using a little watered down black paint, it is easy to paint over these and give the models a little more depth that helps finish them off. Now you may well be wondering why I keep calling the windmill model infamous - well if you ever built this thing back in the day you will no doubt recall that it was forever falling over. The sails made the construction quite top heavy. I used a lump of old metal model to add a little weight to the base and this has really helped make the mill more stable. 

As the McDeath scenarios require this building to double as the malthouse (to do this, you remove the sails) I didn't want to attach them permanently. I used a small piece of balsa wood and a drawing pin to create a detachable sail. Both the wood and the pin will be painted black at a later date. 

I still have plenty more card buildings to put together but I shall save them for another day. Sitting surrounded with all the cut of strips of card, my ruler and knife with the sweet smell of copydex in my nostrils was fantastic and left me feeling suitably energised about what my next hobby project would be. As I put away both of my Townscape copies I started thinking if it is 'normal' to love a set of card buildings quite so much. 

Was there more than pure nostalgia at play?

Looking over the book with fresh eyes what really appeals to me now is the variety of the building types. There are loads of simple dwellings in which the common man of the Warhammer world would have dwelt. Some are ramshackle, while others are far larger and more opulent. But they all seem real and are not overpowered with skills, astronomical symbolism or burning braziers. Reality is, for me at least, essential to any successful fantasy setting. If you cannot believe in it, if it doesn't make sense then how can the fantastic elements work? Normality is essential for the incredible to appear incredible! 

I guess the range and simplicity of the models is a big draw. 

The artwork also rings a chord in me and the look of the models seems to compliment the painted Citadel miniatures in my collection. They make the perfect backdrop to you latest work. Despite not being overdesigned, there are lots of humourous details hidden away on the cardstock buildings, my favourite being the Slann in Space pub sign and the wanted Perry brothers posters. 

I suppose to answer my question, it is normal to love Warhammer Townscape so much because it is a fantastic product. Even thirty years later, if you can find a copy in reasonable condition you could make an entire town's worth of models. And that is a lot of models for any wargaming table. With a little work, you can add additional tiles, weeds, moss or even drain pipes if you were so inclined. 

Warhammer Townscape is old school Warhammer at its very best and deserves to be in the collection of any serious enthusiast. 

I am so glad that it is in mine and I love it! 


Sunday, 11 December 2016

McDeath: New Acquisitions

Hello all. I have to make the seasonal confession of having achieved nothing over the last month or so Oldhammerwise. I have just been too busy with Church services (for work), Christmas nativities (for work), Christingles (for work), weddings (for family), visits from the dreaded mother (for family) and the general hustle and bustle of December in England. 

However, I have managed to take advantage of the recent eBay miniatures frenzy. Unless you have been living under a rock, you will have noticed that an exceptionally well resourced collector, who may or may not be a well known and long serving member of GW (;  ,has been selling a very large and unique collection of models online - including the fabled Nuln Spearman for over £1000! Well, the swarming waters Citadel collectors have frothed up have obscured several other nuggets that usually attract plenty of attention, namely Collector Sets. 

As you will have seen in my photograph, I have managed to purchase a further ten clansmen (the useful sculpts with the cabers and shotput) and Marcus Grimmock, the fearsome C10 preslotta giant in recent weeks without breaking the bank. Despite having multiple projects on hand, I feel the urge to return to my ongoing mission to recreate the five scenarios for McDeath. With Christmas looming and a entire week free, I will have plenty of time to get stuck into painting up the models I will need. With both my blogging and painting skills rusty, I will need to get back into the swing of things before my festive diet of whiskey, mince pies and roast dinners finishes me off!!


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Colleges of Colour magic: Amethyst wizard

The weather was pretty bad this weekend, but I still managed to snap two photos between the raindrops of this wonderful fellow, my Amethyst wizard. He isn't one of the Time Warped Wizards models, but an original Citadel casting with a slotta tab. Not that you'd know unless you peered underneath the base, there is absolutely no difference between the two castings, save the basing method. 

Though I decided to use this model to represent the Amethyst Order, with hindsight I wish I hadn't. Re-reading the Colleges of Magic articles which inspired this little project revealed that the falling star motif on his clothing actually represents the Celestial College - again making me wonder if these models were originally produced in support of 'something' more than two articles in White Dwarf and their beautiful Gary Chalk artwork. 

With their reputation for excess (and heavy drinking) the Amethyst Order seems the best to represent me. Gladly, I still have all of my hair. 

Next time, Skaven. I need to catch up lost ground on the City of Lead project. See you next week! 


Leadspotting: Was the Pantheon of Chaos Kickstarter any good?

As very long term readers will know, I have been interested in the Pantheon of Chaos project since it was called Antiqus Malleum and was spearheaded by Mick Leach of Eastern Front Games. For some reason I can never quite fathom, the project stalled at the final hurdle, but like phoenix to flame, Diego Serrate and his pals rode to the rescue and have since launched a successful Kickstarter. 

But was the final result actually any good? Sure, many a crowdfund has promised the Earth but delivered a tiny piece of Shropshire (and a not very nice piece at that) sending forums and comments pages alight with rage and disappointment. 

Thankfully, The Pantheon of Chaos did not descend into farce and I recently received a number of models from the project. Hence, this review and the reason you are now reading this. Perhaps you were tempted by the models on offer, or took the plunge and coughed up the cash? It matters not, as we are here today to review some of the miniatures on offer. 

What started as a small project to put together a couple of chaos warriors soon grew into a mammoth undertaking of astonishing proportions. Looking back, it was as if each week Diego and his gibbering, mutated sculptors served up another '80s Warhammer inspired wonder on wonder. There were by the project's end so many different models it was hard to keep track of them all and I capitulated and let the greens wash over my like a tidal wave of tin. 

When he was not whipping his sculptors or force feeding them raw meat, Diego engineered one beautiful looking range after the other. Warriors, champions, troops and of course - behemoths! With old school GW stalwarts such as Tony Ackland, Kev Adams and Tim Prow on board too, the results were enough to make a seasoned (and quite blinkered) Citadel collector into chasing something else small and silver. 

Speaking with Diego, he has assured me that there is much more to come, including a hardback rulebook to support the range, and a webstore to peddle the models on an individual basis. But that is all in the future, for now we have the initial outlay of models, of which I have a mere handful to examine. 

To start with I am going to look at the multi-part models I received in more detail. I have photographed them here with a trusty old 1990 Citadel Bretonnia gunner for scale. All of these models are creatures of chaos and display the crazed proportions of their ilk. 

Top left, we have C'Chak the Silent - and be honest I am not quite sure 'what' exactly he is supposed to be. He is certainly fimir like and has a reptilian body. I am not quite sure where to place him in my collection and my opt for him to represent a troglodyte.

Top middle, we have Screech. A beastman type, he has a positive whiff of bat wings about his ears and a baroque style of armour. A scorpion tail completes his chaotic visage. 

Bottom left, Kev Adams Scragg hobgoblin champion - beautifully sculpted and similar to some of the larger models he did for the Warmonger range. He is far too large for me to use as a standard goblinoid - so instead he may well become a troll or ogre. 

The long headed chap is perhaps the weakest of the models, in my opinion at least. Something about the pose I think just doesn't gel with me and the design doesn't tickle my fancy at all. 

Zz'andor is the real ace in the deck here and I love him. An obvious pastiche of Zygor Snake-Arms from the pre-slotta days, only this new version is superior in every way to the original model and the quality of detail is extremely crisp. A stunning model! 

Conclusion: A really solid bunch of models. Though the multi-part nature of the miniatures may well put some people off, these just beg to be painted (or if you are daring, converted). The quality of the casting really surprised me, being used to Bryan's Foundry quality of production. These are weighty, crisp models packed with detail. I observed little or no flash on the examples I received and absolutely no miscasting at all. 

The single cast models may well appeal to the old school Citadel collector more than the multi-part, so I have separated them in this review. Personally, I prefer my models in this way and I believe that the poise and position of a model is best dictated by a sculptor of some skill and not me and my superglue. Again, the Bretonnian gunner has popped in to offer some scale guidance.

Top left, we have the model I once named Oskar the Writhing and he is a real beauty to hold in the hand. Full of crusty, corroded details he is just shouting out to become a Nurgle champion in my nascent force. You may well remember the two models below him from the Antiqus Malleum days, and again I was pleased to finally have these in my hands. To the right are two beastman models who riff in a different direction than the standard goat man. The lizard headed chap on the top row really caught my eye and his heavy amrour will no doubt paint up beautifully. 

Standout model here? Kev Adam's goblin standard bearer. A work of art. 

As I said earlier, the Pantheon project became so massive it became difficult to keep track of it all. These little critters (which I understand where handed out as free extras to backers) are very similar to the Famous Familiars of old. They are more chunky than their '80s cousins though, being perhaps more closely related to Kev Adam's late '80s Nurglings. They are varied and interesting. My favourite has to be the fly headed 'thing' on the top of the row. 

Conclusion: An excellent set of models that will blend in perfectly with any collection of old school fantasy from the 1980s or later. Special mention must be made of the beastmen as an attempt has made to produce something different from the goathead archetype. The goblin standard bearer is a must for any collector. 

Here is a close up of the other two familar things so you can check out the detail and imagination on offer. 


Finally, the big boy himself, the Greater Daemon of Malign/Malice/Malal - whatever you want to call him. He is a really large model and weighs a fair whack. Handling him brought a nice smile to my face as it brought back the first time I opened up blisters of the original Greater Daemons of Chaos way back in the 1980s - which I guess is the ultimate accolade I can give any model. 

He is multi-part and will require some skill to assemble. Cleaning and greenstuffing will no doubt be essential to get the best out of this model, as well as a fair bit of pinning. To the old school modeller, this isn't going to pose a problem but to though who are perhaps more suited to the CAD plastic (and resin) kits of today, it may feel daunting. I can tell just by looking at the level of detail that when this beast is assembled and ready for painting, he will make a fine centre piece to any army or indeed collection. 


Like the single cast models before this gigantic creature, it feels rather smashing to have at last got my hands on this model. From first noticing it in the Realm of Chaos books, to discovering that the now famous Malal daemon was still part of Tony Ackland's art collection and using his warp maddened memory to recreate the pantheon of daemons from this lost god, it has been quite a journey. 

Conclusion: Even my wife liked this model and suggested that I got on and painted it so she could see it finished. No miniature could receive higher praise than that!!! (;

Right, all I have to do now is work out which model I am going to work on first. Quite a hard question to answer really, considering that I have a bunch of skaven on the go as I type. Oh, and a few more wizards! 

Time to go ponder. 


Friday, 18 November 2016

Colleges of Colour Magic: Golden Wizard

It has been a long week with two parents' evenings at school keeping me up late but I still managed to find the time (I am not actually sure how!) to finish off this fellow - my Golden Wizard. As is my whim, I have continued to use the Time Warped Wizards to represent the Third Edition colleges as best as I can. This fellow seemed just perfect for the wealthiest group of wizards in the Old World, though I cannot help wondering if he wasn't originally intended to be a wizard at all.

He looks more like a villager or nobleman to me. But then, what does a wizard actually look like, eh? Do they all require robes, a long beard and about fifty years to qualify? I think not. The background to WFB3 (and by association WFRP) is flexible enough for you to be creative without nerdist fluff-lawyers restricting your imagination. 

As seems apt for his college, I chose yellow and gold as the main colours. I used the absolutely excellent Foundry yellow triad to paint his fine jerkin and upper hose. As yellow has the lowest pigmentation in nature, it can be a challenging colour to get right - especially when highlighting as too much white can really bleach the shade. The Foundry paint is superb and only needs a little additional mixing to bring out the best in the tone. 

Go buy some now - you won't regret it!

With the yellow complete, the white was easy to work up with a light grey being used to create depth in the folds of the cloth. Red always compliments yellow well, and so I used it to paint up the rather large bows that adorn his clothing while purple served as a striking spot colour to off set all those fire hues. 

I am very pleased with the face and skin tones, as I have switched my flesh paints to the Foundry system and found it rather challenging to achieve my signature look in my recent work. Smart brown shoes, no doubt of expensive but practical origin, completed the model. 

I hope you like him. I feel he is the best paint job yet in this little project. 

Right, time for work and to ponder which college is next.